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General Lytle may have written the verses with which he is generally credited, but if so, he must have completed them fully three years before the battle of Chickamauga was fought, as the poem was published in a weekly paper in one of the Louisiana parishes in 1860, so we have been informed by a gentleman who resided in that section of the country at that time. We rather incline to the opinion that ex-Governor Allen, of Louisiana, who died an exile in Mexico shortly after the close of the war, was their author. He was one of the most talented men in the Pelican State, but died several years before any controversy arose as to the authorship of the poem. OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC LEDGER, Edwards & Fiveash, Proprietors, NORFOLK, VA., October 12, 1895.
Editor States,-By the enclosed clipping you will see that the claim is still made that General Lytle, who was killed at Chickamauga, completed the poem "Antony and Cleopatra the night before he was killed.
For a number of years we had in our employ, as local reporter, Mr. T. B. Ruffin, who is now dead. Mr. Ruffin was a printer, and went from Virginia to the Southwest about 1858, where he remained until the war broke out, when he returned as a member of a Memphis company. Some twelve or fifteen years ago, when conversing with him relative to the poem named, he told me that he had read it about the year 1860 in a weekly paper published in Louisiana, in the neighborhood of Donaldsonville, I think. The name of the paper, if he told me, I have forgotten. I have since been of the opinion that ex-Governor Allen, of your State, composed the poem, and if you ascertain the name of the paper and the date on which the poem was published I think that you could prove the groundlessness of the claim that has been made in Ohio that General Lytle composed the verses.
Mr. Ruffin worked in Baton Rouge on State printing, I think, shortly before the war commenced. He was in Memphis, however, when the storm burst in the spring of 1861.
With many wishes for your health and happiness, I am,
Yours very truly,
JOSEPH G. FIVEASH.
P. S. My partner, Mr. Edwards, says that he thinks that Ruffin named the Sugar Bowl as the paper that published the poem.
J. G. F.
Since writing the above Mr. Robert W. Tunstall, principal of the Norfolk Academy, has called our attention to the fact that the poem was published as early as 1860, in “The Poets and Poetry of the West," edited by William T. Coggeshall. See Library of American Literature, volume 8, page 312.
In compliance with the request contained in the foregoing letter we have made such an investigation as was in our power, and we are quite well satisfied that General Lytle was in truth the author of the poem in question. Antony and Cleopatra" was certainly never written by General Allen, for it is the work of a true poet, and though Allen was a gallant soldier, a splendid and noble gentleman, and a popular orator, there was nothing of the poet about him. The Sugar Bowl was printed in New Iberia, but long after the poem was given to the public. It might have been printed in the Planters' Banner, published in St. Mary, long before and long after the war, by the late Daniel Dennett.
But while we believe that there is not a particle of doubt that the poem was written by the gallant Ohio soldier, the facts are fatal to the little romance that has been woven around it, and which states that it was written by the General by a camp-fire the night preceding the bloody battle of Chickamauga, in which battle he was killed. As a matter of fact, the poem, as stated by our Norfolk friend, was printed in 1860, fully three years before the battle referred to, and is extant in the Library of American Literature, volume 8, page 312, credited to "The Poets and Poetry of the West," printed in 1860, and the authorship credited to Lytle.
General Lytle was a gallant Federal soldier, respected and honored by the Confederates. Our honored friend and fellow-citizen, Major Douglass West, who was himself a brave and loyal soldier of the Confederacy, first discovered the body of Lytle on the field in his dying moments, and had him removed to the Confederate hospital. Major West furnishes the States with the following interesting and very touching interview on the subject:
COLONEL WEST'S ACCOUNT.
There is no one more familiar with the death and attendant circumstances of the author of "I am Dying, Egypt, Dying," than Colonel Douglass West, of this city, who performed such kindly services towards a fallen foe after General Lytle had received his death wounds. Colonel West was called on at his residence and
asked to narrate some of these incidents, but the old soldier felt constrained, fearing that what he might say would be considered prompted by egotism. When the reporter succeeded in removing these scruples, Colonel West spoke interestingly as follows:
General W. H. Lytle, commanding a brigade of Sheridan's division, McCook's corps, was killed about noon, September 20, 1863, by the troops of the Twenty-second Alabama Regiment of Deas' Brigade in Hindman's Division, commanded in that action by General Patton Anderson.*
This command captured between 600 and 700 officers and men of Lytle's Brigade. After the charge, which resulted in the rout of this division of Sheridan, General Anderson ordered me, as InspectorGeneral of his command, to take charge of those Federal prisoners, then under fire from their own friends, and put them in a place of safety and turn them over to the provost guard, and rejoin my command.
Whilst engaged in this duty of collecting the men under an amphitheatre in their rear, an officer of the Federal army, wounded, Achilles-like, in his heel, limped up to me and asked me to save his General, who had fallen, and was then lying near the Federal breastworks, which, together with the dead leaves in the forest, were burning from the artillery fire on both sides.
I asked him: "Who is your general?"
He replied: "General Lytle.'
I asked him whether he was the officer riding a small, dark horse, who was so active in rallying his men. He replied that doubtless he was.
I then said: "Get four or five of your most stalwart men, wounded, and take them with you to the spot, and I will follow you." The distance was short from where we were holding this conversation, and just across their breastworks, hastily constructed of felled and rotten timber, we found the body lying in the leaves. His face was upwards. He was bleeding from three wounds-one of which, I know, was in the neck; one in the leg, and I have forgotten where the other was. He was dressed in full regulation uniform, but was minus his sword, his scabbard and belt being still on his person. My first exclamation on looking down upon his graceful and manly form, so perfectly dressed and accoutred, was:
"I am dying, Egypt, dying!"
[* See letter of Judge S. S. Calhoon, subjoined.-Ed. S. H. S. Papers.]
I then had his body carried across the breastworks to a secure place, left it in charge of this Federal officer, who begged me to have it buried, if possible, and place a Confederate guard with it.
At this period the Federal officer who brought me to General Lytle's body said to me: "General Lytle's family will. never forget you for this act of kindness; will you kindly give me your name and rank?"
I hesitated and said: "The Inspector-General of General Anderson's Division.'
This did not satisfy him.
He pulled a memorandum-book from
his pocket and said: "I want your full address."'
I gave it to him-"Major Douglass West, Inspector-General, Deas' Brigade."
He startled me by replying: "Why, that's my name! Probably we are some kin ?"
I replied: "Where are you from?" and he answered: “I am Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore I. West, of the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Regiment." I said: "We can hardly be kin, my family have been in Virginia over two centuries, and never immigrated."
I exchanged sabres with him, he having a very light service sabre, and mine being a very clumsy Confederate-made Claymore. He stated that his sabre was private property, presented to him by the citizens of his county, and bore his name on the blade, which I found by examining it to be true.
I had sent a courier in search of an ambulance during this conversation. In the meantime the courier had returned, and said he could find no ambulance, but listening, I heard through the woods the distant sound of a vehicle. Immediately I galloped towards the sound and met Lieutenant-General Longstreet and staff, and reported to him the killing of General Lytle, and that I was then in search of an ambulance to carry his body off the field and have it buried. I overtook the ambulance about a mile distant, and riding along side of it discovered that it contained Captain Deas Nott, of the Twenty-second Alabama, mortally wounded in the charge that killed General Lytle. I asked Captain Nott if he was severely wounded, and he replied: "I think I am mortally wounded."
I told him I had General Lytle's body, and that, as the dead officer had been a war Democrat and friendly towards a proper conduct of
the war, I asked him would he allow the body to be thrown over the seat of the ambulance to be taken to the hospital, and he said: Certainly." I wrote a note hastily, directed to the surgeon of our division, Dr. Turner, and others, asking them, if possible, to have General Lytle's body buried. I conducted the ambulance back to where I had left General Lytle's body, and requested Colonel West to give me all the effects on his person, which consisted of his belt and scabbard, a most superb pistol, his private pocket-book, and pocket-book containing his military orders, and a small wicker flask. These I retained, and when I reached General Anderson that night, in bivouac near Snodgrass Hill, I detailed all these events to him.
We sat by the uncertain light of the camp-fire that night and read quite a number of letters, most of which appear to have been written by his sister, and were signed "Jodie." These letters contained numerous scraps of poetry written by General Lytle, and clipped by her from Cincinnati papers. All this was very interesting reading to us, but it was painful for us to think that we had assisted in putting out so brilliant a light. We talked of the poem which gave him his great celebrity, and I was enabled to recite it to General Anderson that night from memory, and I told him I had read it fully two years before the war. General Anderson said to me: "" 'Major, what are you going to do with those effects of General Lytle."
I said I had promised an officer of his command to take the earliest opportunity to send them to his family.
KINDNESS TO HIS MOTHER.
General Anderson said:
Major, you will do me a great favor if you will allow me to do this, as General Lytle has placed me under peculiar obligations by having sent my old mother through the Federal lines in his own ambulance."
I then gave him all the effects except a small wicker flask, which I retained as a souvenir. General Anderson sent these articles through Bragg's headquarters to Rosecrans' command under a flag of truce.
During the action, after the killing of General Lytle, I received a wound which gave me some concern, and I asked General Anderson's permission to ride back to the hospital, and that I would report at dawn in the morning. I rode through the woods without guides, except the stars and the sounds, and it was after midnight when I reached the field hospital of our division on the Chickamauga river,